I won’t be the first to admit that my friends and I base a lot of our days out on what is trending on Instagram. We can spend hours searching for the most aesthetic restaurants and cafés around, only to spend the entire time there trying to mimic the photos we’ve seen online. We never take the time to absorb our surroundings or appreciate some of the unique places we have been to.
We slowly create start comparing ourselves to others instead of being grateful for the opportunities we get to explore.
At the same time, this ‘Instagram worthy aesthetic’ can come with a hefty price tag. Recently, I visited a popular café a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park, only to spend £9 on a hot chocolate and some stale pancakes. The staff knew the place was considered a social media hotspot. Upon entry we were told you had an hour time limit inside to allow other people to have this same, Instagrammable experience. Like many others, my friend and I walked away feeling dissatisfied. Whilst there was some mild gratification when pictures of our experience were well received online, it is often disheartening to spend so much time and money on these excursions, just for the sake of a nice picture.
When exploring Instagram, we can easily find countless retouched images of luxurious, exotic locations. To some extent, these create an environment where we begin to lose appreciation for sights around us. We slowly start comparing ourselves to others instead of being grateful for the opportunities we get to explore. A number of studies support the idea that the longer we spend on social media, the more likely we are to experience depressive symptoms. At the same time, university students are often likely to experience ‘Facebook envy’when comparing themselves to others on social media.
by spending so much time on our phones , we suffer from ‘digital amnesia’
Many people crave this influencer style feed, to portray this façade of themselves. The rise of social media influencers means many have created this assumption that travel is best when lavish, over the top and heavily Photoshopped. Arguably, we can gain so much more from stepping away from the screens to reflect and learn more about the world. According to new research from Oxford University, by spending so much time on our phones , we suffer from ‘digital amnesia‘ – we no longer use all our senses to appreciate what we see, thus struggle to remember our experiences.
Recently, I went on a day trip to visit a friend – without trying to make it a picture-perfect time. It was by far one of the most freeing experiences I have had. We drove around the countryside and just took the day to fully absorb everything we saw. It was lovely to experience things without putting filters on them. We valued them for what they were rather than tentatively considering the reactions others would have upon looking at pictures.
By stepping away from our social media bubble whilst travelling, we can gain real, cultural experiences of a place. We can allow ourselves to use all senses and create our own perceptions. Taking the opportunity to turn off your phone and look around will make for a more memorable day out.